Tag Archives: recharge

Work Time Shouldn’t Be On All The Time

Being in constant contact with work is not a good thing.

Oh, sure with the advent of e-mail and the Blackberry, being able to check your work e-mail while home was seen as a good thing. You could point to how indispensable you were because work had to be able to contact you at all times.

You could surprise people by having the response to their end-of-the-day e-mail on their desk the very next morning by the time they got in because you answered it at 11 pm before you went to bed.

The problem with the situation we’ve created is that now folks expect you to respond instantly. You are expected to be in constant contact with work, to never be off the clock.

And that, dudes, is not a good thing. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Last Saturday a friend of mine was compulsively checking his cell phone just before 11pm when he saw an email from his boss that had come in minutes before. The note asked that my friend make a change to the company website. Since it was the middle of the weekend, he figured the chore could wait. But the next day at 10:30am the boss sent another email, demanding to know why my friend hadn’t done the task.

Susan Adams, a Forbes staff writer, brings news that researchers have found pretty solid evidence that checking your e-mail or even playing around with your futurephone during the evenings is a bad idea, health-wise.

A new paper by three business school professors reveals what most of us probably realize but have trouble acting on: Checking our smartphones after 9pm stresses us out, saps our energy and makes it tough to fall asleep. The paper goes on to say something few of us probably want to admit: Using our smartphones late at night to keep up with work has a hangover effect, depleting the vigor we would put into work the next day.

“Smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep,” said Russell E. Johnson, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State’s Broad College of Business, in a statement. Johnson admits to keeping his smartphone at his bedside at night. “Because they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep,” he added.

According to a relatively recent study, more than half of all adult Americans own a futurephone of some kind. That number is only going to get higher, which means that the number of adults who feel they have to be available to their work every hour of every day of every week of every year is only going to rise.

This sort of constant-on behavior leaves us no time to relax, no time to recharge our mental energies. It’s exhausting, in more ways than one.

Imagine you’re raising a tiny baby dude now, in this sort of environment. What will she think growing up when she realizes that you will only play with her until the boxy thing in your pocket bleeps at you and then you put her down and pick it up? Is your child really second-fiddle to a futurephone?

I realize it’s not necessarily the futurephone holding you hostage, but the working environment that it represents. And, certainly, no one person can say, “This far and no further. The line must be drawn and it must be drawn here.” and stop the whole cycle.

But maybe, dudes. . . Maybe if enough of us were to point to the health and workplace deficits inherent in the current always-on system. . . Maybe then we could make a change for the better.


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Vacation Or Die!

by Richard

The second-worst week of any working year is the week just before you leave on vacation. Of course, the worst week of any working year is the week right after you return from vacation.

Ah, dudes. But those actual vacation days. Those are some good days, indeed.

And, it turns out, they just might be saving your life. In a column, Dan Obeidallah asks if you wanted  to have that heart attack. And, if you didn’t, why didn’t you take the vacation days that could have helped stave it off?

Here’s the deal. Studies have shown that not taking vacations is linked to health problems. And if people skip vacations, there’s a chance that they may die younger than those who don’t.

I think employers should be required to post warning labels in the workplace similar to those on cigarettes packs. I’d love to see a big sign in the break room that reads: “WARNING: Working too many weeks without a vacation is going to kill you. Seriously, you are going to die from it.”

One study found that men at high risk for coronary heart disease, and who failed to take annual vacations, were 32% more susceptible to dying from a heart attack.

Another study compared women who vacationed at least twice a year to those who took one every six years or less. Astoundingly, the women who did not vacation annually were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack.

All of which is too bad for a lot of Americans. In this country, we’re practically obsessed with the idea of proving our toughness, our fitness through work, and one of the ways we do that, is to not take vacation or sick days. I mean, I’ve heard some dudes boast about not having taken a vacation day in years.

I just plain don’t understand dudes like that. Vacations are something you earn by working hard during the year. They allow you to take a little time, stop stressing over stuff that is, in the long run, pretty unimportant. If you work at it, you can even get some perspective, and that never hurts.

The average American uses only 12 of her 14 vacation days each year. In Europe, that average is closer to 20. It’s not even a question to ask which economic entity has a higher life expectancy. Europe of course.

If saving your life isn’t enough of a reason to take a few vacations, here is another: People who take annual vacations are more productive.

A 2010 study found that 35% of Americans feel better about their job and are more productive after a vacation. Vacations have been found to help us recharge — we sleep better during them and for a period of time afterwards. And our brain responses become quicker after vacations.

So what’s the point of all this? Simply to make sure you think about taking the vacation days you’ve earned. Especially considering it’s summer and your little dude is not in school, which makes this the perfect time to take a few days and see things from the viewpoint of a younger dude for once in a while.

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Gimme Three Steps. . . To Get Organized

by Richard

Yesterday, I started talking about a three-step system to get ADD adults organized. The system came from Judith Kolberg,  co-author of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life and other books on organization. She lives in Atlanta. In part 1, I said the first step in getting organized was to create a master to-do list. So we’ll take that as done and we’re headed to part 2.

Step two is for you to prepare your planner. Now is when we need to talk about time and how we perceive it.

What you’re able to accomplish depends on how much time is available to you. Sounds simple, right? Yet many ADDers overestimate the amount of time they have — because they fail to recognize how many hours of each day are already “booked” with regular obligations, appointments, events, and tasks.

Sit down with your calendar, personal digital assistant or daily planner and enter all the time- and date-specific items, such as events, birthdays, anniversaries, due dates, meetings, or appointments, one week at a time. Schedule in all the daily and weekly chores you routinely do, as well — shopping for groceries, exercising, balancing your checkbook, and so on.

Once you have marked down how much of your time is already booked, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

The final step in Kolberg’s play to get you organized is, stated simply, put it all together. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but not by much.

Now you have two things: a master list of everything you need to do AND a calendar that tells you how much time is available to you each day. To figure out your daily action plan, look at today’s page in your calendar or planner and then review the A- and B-priorities on your master list.

Estimate how many high-priority master-list items you can fit around your scheduled tasks. Ask yourself, “Given the things I already have scheduled today, is my plan practical?”

When you’re asking that question, there’s a few things you should consider. Make sure you plan to do a little less than you think you can accomplish that day, mainly to give yourself a little cushion should the unexpected arise. You also need to leave enough time for meals and travel time to and from meetings.

The last two major components of putting it all together are making sure you get some “green time” outdoors to recharge your mental and physical batteries, and to make sure you have a mix of items to do each day.

Be sure that each day includes a mix of “high-brain” and “low-brain” tasks; if your day is taken up solely by things that are hard to do or that require lots of decision-making, you’ll be exhausted.

As you go about your day, make sure you’ve got your lists with you. That way, you can jot down new to-do items as they occur to you. After a week or two, you can take the new to-do items and start all over. These three steps sound like they can go you a lot of good, no matter if you’ve got ADD or are neuro-typical. Either way, being organized is better than being a schlub. Give it a try.

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